Have you ever wanted to slip away for a weekend with nothing but your favourite books for company? You’re not alone. Reading retreats – or holidays devoted exclusively to reading – are a growing tourism trend. Even business magnate Bill Gates has confessed to scheduling regular week-long reading retreats, where he pours over books he has put aside to be read.
If you’re contemplating a literary weekend away, here are ten gorgeous ideas to keep in mind.
1. Voewood House, North Norfolk, UK – Guests are offered a one-to-one session with a bibliotherapist at this reading retreat on the North Norfolk coast. With a bespoke list of literary fiction to enrich your stay, the weekends usually feature lots of evening conversation with fellow book lovers over dinner and brisk afternoon walks to the sea.
2. The Beach Hut, Cornwall, UK – An 85 year-old former teahouse located on a remote cove on the rugged, windswept coast of Cornwall. At only 510 square feet, this snug little abode provides the perfect place to curl up beside the wood burning stove with a good book. The sea-facing front porch is another favoured reading spot, where you can disappear into your novel to the rhythmic sound of waves crashing. Undisturbed bliss.
3. The Castle of Galeazza, Italy – A 14th century Italian castle set amongst ten acres of woodlands with a 3,000 book library? Yes, please. The Castle of Galeazza has been hosting reading retreats since 1996. Visitors flock from all over the world to enjoy the peace and beautiful surroundings while they read. There are hundreds of DVDs available too, if you prefer chilling out and overdosing on literary adaptations and hot, buttery popcorn in the Galeazza Cinema.
4. The Library Hotel, New York, USA – Brimming with bibliophilic charm, the rooms at The Library Hotel in New York each boast a literary theme – from classic books and fairytales to libraries and erotica. You can choose your room in advance or wait to be surprised upon arrival. As if the 24 hour Reading Room and nightly pillow chocolates inscribed with literary quotes aren’t enough for book loving travellers, you can also pre-book the Guilty Pleasure Package. This includes a selection of books from the historic Strand Bookstore, hand picked based on your individual interests, as well as admission for two to the Morgan Library and Museum.
5. Glasshampton Monastery, Worcester, UK – For extreme peace and quiet, Glasshampton Monastery in Worcester was named one of the eight best places in Europe for a retreat by The Sunday Telegraph. Simple yet comfortable rooms are available to pre-booked guests with full use of a small sitting room, gardens and surrounding woods and fields for reading. Be warned though, even the meals at the Monastery are taken in silence. This is peace and quiet at its best.
6. Virginia Woolf’s Country Retreat, Sussex, UK – Nestled in the beautiful Sussex countryside, Monk’s House – now owned by The National Trust – is a tranquil 17th-century weatherboarded cottage once inhabited by the novelist Virginia Woolf. While you can’t stay in the main house, you can rent the Monk’s House Studio, set within Virginia’s beloved garden. The pretty little studio is one large, sunlit living room and bedroom with absolutely gorgeous views. Don’t forget to pack To The Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway.
7. Lindeth Howe, Cumbia, UK – Beatrix Potter fell in love with the impressive, rambling house that is Lindeth Howe when she and her family rented it as a holiday home, and she later bought the property for the mother. Set in its own private gardens, the hotel offers cosy, comfortable rooms, beautiful views of Lake Windermere and even a private spa for its guests. The perfect spot for revisiting some of your favourite childhood books.
8. L’Hotel in St-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, France – There are few things lovelier than a weekend in Paris with nothing to do but read and drink coffee at some of the city’s many pavement cafés. Complete your chic city break by staying at L’Hotel in St-Germain-des-Prés; room 16 is where Oscar Wilde breathed his last, famously remarking: "I am dying beyond my means".
9. Reading Weekends, Sussex, UK – Run by author Damian Barr and a selection of special guests, Reading Weekends take place in deepest Sussex at the lovely Tilton House. As well as plenty of time for reading, the retreats include bedtime stories (for which guests gather in the cosy lounge in their pajamas), and a literary salon supper with a well-respected writer. Previous special guests have included Naomi Alderman, Diana Athill and JoJo Moyes. There’s usually some pretty competitive scrabble too.
10. Eilean Shona, Scotland, UK – If you have a huge reading pile to conquer, how about your own moss-covered woods and white, sandy beach on a private island in Scotland? Better yet, this is the island J. M. Barrie rented when he was writing Peter Pan. A veritable Neverland, you’ll be sure to get lots of reading done here.
Would you consider going on a reading retreat? If so, which one would you choose?